NowComment
2-Pane Combined
Comments:
Full Summaries Sorted

Mr. Joe: Tales from a Haunted Life

Author: Joseph Barnett and Jane Congdon

0 General Document comments
0 Sentence and Paragraph comments
0 Image and Video comments


Prologue

New Conversation
Paragraph 1 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Grandpop

New Conversation
Paragraph 2 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Glen Ferris, West Virginia, 1961

New Conversation
Paragraph 3 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 3, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I lingered beside my grandfather’s coffin, fascinated by the power of death to take away all signs of personality. Grandpop had been alive when the ambulance came for him; the neighbors said he had waved from the back of the vehicle. Now his hands were folded flat, his eyes closed forever. His face looked empty and old to me, and I cried for the grandfather I had known. It was March, still chilly. I was twelve.

New Conversation
Paragraph 4 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Grandpop had been my special friend. In a world of women talking about dishes, he had played checkers with me. He had come to the house when I was little and had taken me for walks, just the two of us. I was the only grandson.

New Conversation
Paragraph 5 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Grandpop had a gold pocket watch that hung from a chain, and he knew I loved that watch. He would take it out of its special pocket and show it to me, always cupping his other hand underneath it so it wouldn’t drop. He had been the same with me: gentle; protective. All of that was over.

New Conversation
Paragraph 6 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Grandpop was the first dead person I had ever seen, and I was shocked at how death had changed him. The body in the casket was, and was not, my grandfather. I recognized him, of course, and there was his suit and there were his wire-rimmed glasses; but the invisible parts of Grandpop--the parts I loved the most--were missing. Those were the traits that had connected us. Until that moment, I hadn’t understood. No one had prepared me. I knew Grandpop was dead, but I didn’t know he’d be gone. Did my good-bye have any meaning? He had left his body, and now I had to leave it and walk on.

New Conversation
Paragraph 7 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

He looks terrible,” I whispered to Mom. “Not like himself. I thought dead people were supposed to look like they’re asleep.”

New Conversation
Paragraph 8 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Don’t ever say that to your grandmother. She’s heartbroken. You can’t let her know how you feel.” It was hard for me to lie, but when I saw the sorrow in my grandmother’s eyes, I did it.

New Conversation
Paragraph 9 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

A few days after the funeral, I was in front of the bathroom mirror combing my hair. Our bathroom was on the second floor, first right at the top of the stairs. It was small, L-shaped, and lit by a lone bulb in a glass shade. I was standing at the sink, concentrating on my reflection, and then I looked away for a second.

New Conversation
Paragraph 10 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I want to say I had no warning, but that isn’t true. No mysterious lights appeared and the room temperature didn’t drop, but there’s a feeling that precedes seeing a ghost. It’s quick; you can hardly separate it from the event; and that feeling is dread. I felt a flash of dread my gut when I turned back to the mirror, and then I thought I might have a heart attack. I was looking at two faces in the glass: mine and Grandpop’s.

New Conversation
Paragraph 11 0
profile_photo
Mar 26
Ron-Tyler Budhram (Mar 26 2013 11:48AM) : Monsters [Edited] more

We see the first ghost in this paragraph, but I think it’s interesting to acknowledge the fact that a ghost is a kind of monster. Maybe this is the reason for the narrator’s unmistakable feeling of dread.

The great thing about monsters of the supernatural variety (ghosts, werewolves, vampires) is that it doesn’t make sense for them to exist. They represent something in the world that operates in a way it shouldn’t, and then they have the nerve to constantly remind us about it – to terrify us.

Even more interesting is that all of us have some part of ourselves, whether on the surface or deep down, that doesn’t make any sense at all. Perverse inclinations, subliminal desires, etc…. these don’t belong, and they are – in a very real way – comparable to monsters. They are our own monsters that live inside of us.

The challenge comes in deciding whether or not it’s best for us to love and embrace our monsters.

New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

He looked alive; only the facts told me I was seeing a ghost. Grandpop wasn’t pale the way I’d imagined a ghost would be. His face was in full color and as clear as mine. It floated above my shoulder as though he was standing behind me. He wore no particular expression—no smile, no scowl—but the emptiness I had seen at the funeral home was gone. His eyes were open now and looking straight into mine. He looked real enough to blink.

New Conversation
Paragraph 12 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I was paralyzed. For the first time, I thought my next breath wasn’t guaranteed. Seconds passed as my heart raced with fear. I could swear it filled the silence with its pounding. Can you watch a ghost think? That’s the way I felt staring at my grandfather’s face, helpless to look away. I could imagine him breathing. What was next? My mind sped through the possibilities. Could he turn his head? Would he smile at me? What if he started talking? That would scare me the most. If he moved or made a sound, I knew I would lose it.

New Conversation
Paragraph 13 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 10 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 11 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 12 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 13 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 14 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Was Grandpop really behind me? I was afraid to turn and look, but what if I had? Would he look solid, or would I see a column of vapor I could put my hand through? I could have seen his head floating in the air, for all I knew. Maybe he wasn’t trying to scare me. But I was twelve. Nothing—nothing—could tame the terror I felt at being alone with Grandpop’s ghost.

New Conversation
Paragraph 14 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I had to get away before my worst fears came true. I made myself move, hoping he wouldn’t follow me. Shutting my eyes, I ducked awkwardly for the bathroom door, praying that Grandpop’s image was anchored to the mirror. Even in the hall, even crashing down the stairs, I could feel him behind me. There was no relief until I reached the safety of other rooms and people with beating hearts.

New Conversation
Paragraph 15 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 15, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

I didn’t tell anyone I had seen Grandpop’s ghost—they would have thought I’d imagined it --but afterward I was afraid to go upstairs. I especially hated climbing those steps when I was alone. When I reached the top and passed the bathroom door, I focused my eyes straight ahead toward my room at the end of the hall, but I couldn’t avoid the bathroom forever. I had to get ready for bed and school.

New Conversation
Paragraph 16 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 16, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Every time I looked in the bathroom mirror, I saw Grandpop’s face. It never failed to startle me, even after I expected it. I lived in fear. I learned to crouch at the mirror until only my forehead and hair were in the reflection, and then I’d look up to comb my hair. When I brushed my teeth and washed my face, I peeked at myself. I hated to use the toilet; that was the one time I was forced to turn my back on the mirror. My skin would prickle and my heart would pound, even when nothing happened. But then something else did happen.

New Conversation
Paragraph 17 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 17, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

He always got me alone. I wanted to be ready, but I couldn’t keep it up. One day he surprised me downstairs. We had a table by our front door with an oval mirror above it, and that day I looked in the mirror and saw him walking down the stairs behind me. He wore the same neutral expression I had seen before as his eyes found mine in the glass. He had his hand on the banister. It was terrible: the steps and the banister were real, but he wasn’t.

New Conversation
Paragraph 18 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 18, Sentence 7 0
profile_photo
Mar 26
Ron-Tyler Budhram (Mar 26 2013 12:05PM) : But is Grandpop real or not? Is Grandpop's ghost real or not?

It was the first time I had seen his full ghostly body and the first time I had seen him move. He was in full color, dressed in a shirt, a tie, and the vest and pants from his brown suit. The chain to his gold watch hung from a vest pocket. The image was so sharp that I could see the crease in his pants. When he got to the landing, he paused with his hand on the post, still watching me. That was it; I opened the door and ran. I ran until I was on another street. That vision of my sweet Grandpop coming down the stairs all dressed up was the scariest thing I’d ever seen.

New Conversation
Paragraph 19 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 5 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 19, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Grandpop haunted me for months. What did he want? Why did he pick me? I didn’t understand any of it. He didn’t try to hurt me, but what is hurt, anyway? He scared me. Just the anticipation of seeing him again wore me down. I had cherished my time alone with Grandpop when he was alive, but not now. Now I only wanted him to leave me alone.

New Conversation
Paragraph 20 0
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 5 0
profile_photo
Mar 28
Ron-Tyler Budhram (Mar 28 2013 12:05PM) : The existence of this ghost calls a lot into question for this narrator more

I really enjoy how, here, this first-person narrator questions the sensation of pain. Earlier, in the last sentence of paragraph 18, he seems to decide that his grandfather’s ghost isn’t “real.” However, I think readers question the reality of ghosts at that point (at least in the universe of this memoir), and now in this sentence, the narrator questions pain in a similar way. It is as if, on some level, his twelve-year-old mind is trying to understand that maybe there is something “real” beyond what most people can see.

Seeing a ghost must naturally call a lot into question. For instance, can people really trust their senses?

New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 6 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 7 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 8 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 20, Sentence 9 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Grandpop was my first ghost, but he wouldn’t be my last, and it would have been much too soon to tell me that ghosts would become a metaphor for my whole life.

New Conversation
Paragraph 21 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 21, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

DMU Timestamp: March 08, 2013 19:51

General Document Comments 0
Start a new Document-level conversation

profile_photo
Mar 26
Jane Congdon (Mar 26 2013 1:38PM) : Hello. I am the co-author of this book, which is not a novel but a memoir. My brother's story is true. Have you ever seen a ghost? How did you react? Did you tell anyone?
Image
0 comments, 0 areas
add area
add comment
change display
Video
add comment

Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

Logging in, please wait... Blue_on_grey_spinner